The Webby for Good, produced in partnership with WP Engine, is a showcase of Webby-honored projects and campaigns that are promoting social good in the world.
Describe your project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?
Our campaign's objective was to shine a light on Amnesty International's efforts around cyber censorship—to highlight the growing issues of online censorship and surveillance and to draw the world's attention to World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Amnesty International wanted people to take note, but had no media budget to reach them.
What key challenges did you face with this project? And how did you overcome them?
Getting the Amnesty International message heard in countries such as China and Russia is enormously difficult, which is why we hit on the idea to work with a major ad blocking platform, AdBlock. We thought the biggest challenge would be convincing AdBlock to hear us out, but they accepted immediately. The next challenge was to ensure thier audience, who’ve all opted out of seeing all ads, would pay attention to our ad. So, we turned to some of the world's most recognizable names in the fight for freedom from censorship—like Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot—and let them tell their story in their own words.
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project?
At the simplest level, doing good and hopefully having an impact on how the world views cyber censorship was rewarding. From a project logistics point of view, it is always interesting to do something that no one else has before—turning an ad blocking platform on its head for a good cause is the sort of project that has no road map. Seeing people embrace our message and share it on around the world was a fairly special experience, and having the chance to work with global influencers such as Snowden and Ai Weiwei was enormously rewarding.
Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign?
Cyber freedoms are increasingly a crucial aspect of human rights around the world. Free and unfettered access to information online allows people to make up their own minds about their governments and avoid propaganda. Freedom from state surveillance is also a huge issue—your right to privacy is an issue that will be at the forefront for the foreseeable future
When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?
When the idea for this project was first floated, it felt like one of those amazing but impossible concepts that are soon dismissed. But we kept coming back to it and wondering "what if?" I think the most important moment was when the core team committed to taking on the daunting challenge of securing the support of all the global stakeholders that this project required. That's one of the main lessons we all took away—it’s amazing what you can achieve when you simply refuse to let an idea die.
What did you learn from working on this project that you didn't know going into it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you, or that you weren't expecting?
That ad blocking has been around for a very long time. It only really exploded in usage in 2013 around the time that Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the NSA's Prism cyber surveillance system.
Includes advertising display banners, buttons, pop-ups/unders, etc. Can include static or dynamic banners but must conform to common IAB-accepted banner sizes. Campaigns must include at least 3 banners.